ImageLove is the foundation to a secure child who grows into a giving, loving adult.”  This is a statement on the first page of the book, The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, PhD. and Ross Campbell, M.D.  What could we desire more as parents than to raise a loving, kind, giving, and secure child? 

Dr. Chapman’s psychology theories and recommendations are simple, yet work!  Relationships are very complicated, but improved emotional bonding may be as simple as the love language you speak, understand, and perceive as “love”.  

Relationships are very complicated…but also very simple when you think about love as a language.  If a wife speaks Chinese and the hubby speaks English…there might be some communication issues right?  The same happens when the wife’s love language is acts of service and the husbands is physical touch…guess what, they can’t feel connected, they have trouble communicating, and they just can’t feel loved like they did when they were dating.  The wife will have to learn how to speak his love language of physical touch more often…while he has to learn that painting the bedroom a new color is speaking love to her. 

The same happens with the rebellious teenager.  The parents speak the love language of giving gifts and supply all her needs and WANTS…car to drive, the coolest clothes, and fun money.  But this teen is still unhappy and slams the door screaming “You don’t love me!  I hate you!” .  Her parents are perplexed wondering how in the world she can’t see how much they love her.  Her love language may be quality time, she may simply need more time one on one time with her parents.  All she sees is how much they work, and she is alone way to often feeling sorry for herself. 

 Everyone has a primary way in which they perceive love, but speaking all 5 love languages is vital in any relationship. Asking your loved one what is most important to them can help you understand how they perceive love…and it may change daily!  The simple question, “what can I do for you today” can be very insightful into their need for love. 

Little ones perceive love through are caring touch, being there to make them feel safe and secure, meeting their needs for comfort and food, and play time.  My girls are now 9 and 8, and they still need some quality time right before bed to “feel my love”.  This always amazes me that they still crave that bedtime routine, but I have to remember that it “speaks” to them that I love them and how important this one on one time is for them.

 Teenagers often change their primary love language often, thus why parents go crazy trying to understand their teens!   When our children are younger they may perceive love as playing in the floor together, wrestling, putting them to bed, reading books, or small gifts for no reason.  As the teenage years approach and they are establishing a greater independence in who they are, this love language may change…even daily in their needs.  We may even have to ask the “would you rather” question to understand what is more important to them.  Teaching the teenager that they need to show selfless acts of love back to others is very important as well!  Doing volunteer work together in the teen years such as local volunteer groups and mission trips can be life changing and remind them that the world does not revolve around their needs. 

Spouses often run into the problem of poor communication.  It is more of a need than just spending time together talking.  It is how we are perceiving love.   If the wife’s love language is acts of service and quality time, and the husband has been consumed with work outside the home then she is going to feel like she isn’t important to him, and will not want to “speak” to him.  She has to remind herself that his act of working is an act of service, just as vital to their relationship as helping with the laundry.  Men often need to be told what to do in a relationship.  They understand to put on the romance when they are courting you…but that all changes when you have been married for years.  They forget that we still need those acts of love 10 years later.  Ask and you shall recieve…make your needs vocal in a sweet and loving manner by letting your man know what is important to you. 

Men most often perceive love through physical touch and quality time.  This is very hard when the wife has little ones wanting her to hold them all day and she is busy keeping the home and work in balance.  But remember that just like you want your husband to help out more with the kids and home…he wants you to sit next to him while he watches a sports show you have no interest in just to feel your presence and touch.  Men need to feel loved as much as women, they need to feel our loving touch and know that we want to be with them…even if we don’t “feel like it”. 

The hardest part of a relationship is being selfless…showing love with no expection of getting love in return.  But the beautiful thing about love is that the more you show…the more you do get!  Unconditional love is simple to understand…show love with no conditions…but harder to act on! 

Here are the 5 love languages in which everyone perceives love…

  1.  Physical Touch – the importance of touch has been scientifically proven to be a very powerful tool to affect an individual’s mood, emotions, brain chemistry, learning, behavior, and overall health!  Parents instinctively show love through touch with babies by holding, rocking, cuddling, and even “baby wearing” our little ones for the first 12 months.  Then all of a sudden when they become “mobile” we expect them to not need as much calming touch.  Many children crave more touch then what they are receiving.  My little boy needs to wrestle in the floor with Daddy every night to get his “love tank” filled.  My girls still request a back rub every night before bedtime.  Using pressure touch (big bear hugs, shoulder massage) as a powerful calming tool may help a child with ADHD.  As a pediatric occupational therapist we are trained extensively in the neurologic aspects of the touch system and how it can be used to calm or alert.   Deep pressure touch on major muscle regions (back, arms, legs) such as massages, squeezes, rough housing, bear hugs, or sitting in a parents lap to read a book can be very calming.   


2.      Words of Affirmation– This individual needs to hear how well they are doing often.  Their face lights up when you tell them your love and appreciation.  They thrive on hearing how hard they studied or played a sport.   It is vital to be aware of their need for positive affirmation daily.  Remember the tongue is a very powerful tool that can be used to uplift or tear down.  A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime. 


3.       Quality Time– This may be the hardest love language to express for a busy family, but it is essential to MAKE quality time with your child a priority.  I was amazed at Leah, my middle daughter’s answer to the question, “Would you rather Mommy buy you a new toy or play a board game with you?”.  She emphatically stated, “Play a game with me Mommy!”.  The simplest act of eating breakfast and riding to school alone with Daddy at 7 am fills her love tank daily.  Quality time doesn’t have to be a special event.  It can be as simple as doing chores together or playing a board game as a family.  During your quality time it is essential to leave the phone and facebook behind…even if you are just watching a movie together, give your full attention to that person. 


4.      Gifts– For this love language to truly be received as unconditional love, then the gift must come with no conditions.  The English word gift comes from the Greek word charis, meaning “grace, or an undeserved gift”.  Gifts used as a love language are given “just because I love you”.  These types of gifts often cost very little, but have a lifetime of meaning.  Children often express this love language by drawing pictures for loved ones, picking wildflowers for Mommy, or giving away toys to all their friends on play dates.  Remember for gift giving to be a valid love language, it is truly, “The thought that counts!” and not a payment or reward. 


5.      Acts of Service– This requires our time and altruistic effort and can be the most demanding love language of all.  As parents we are constantly showing our love through acts of service to keep our homes in order.  Parents often feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated for the acts of service we do at home, work, and kid-taxi services we keep running. We have to remind ourselves that we are showing our love by providing for our family.   For children, love shown through acts of service may be something totally unrelated to daily chores or bringing home the bacon.  Acts of service should be activities that they cannot do for themselves.  Fixing their bike, putting together a difficult toy set, going camping with them, making special crafts together, volunteering, or helping them with homework are all examples.  


To learn more about the 5 love languages and how they affect all of our relationships read Dr. Chapman’s extensive library of resources at